First of a new series from an author whose usual turf is Salt Lake City and its Mormon denizens (The Spoken Word, 1992, etc.). The tiny religious farming community of Defiance, Idaho -- an outpost of the town of Ellsworth -- also has a Mormon history. The forest fire that wipes out its entire population drawns the attention of the Los Angeles bureau of the ABN-TV network. Ambitious reporter Vicki Garcia, field producer Keith Mainwaring, cameraman Lew Holland, and crew find a story more complex and tragic than the one they came for. Big business, in the form of Bonneville Industries, had been pressing for water rights from a reluctant Defiance. But Ellsworth's mayor and fire and police chiefs, as well as a lot of others, wanted Bonneville's factory, hoping it would revive their dying town. Was the fire accident or arson? Keith pursues answers between frantic calls to various bosses; his discovery of a bullet-wounded dog in burnt-out Defiance; Vicki's ploys for more on-air time; frenetic to-and-froing in various decrepit vehicles; rushed meals in decrepit diners. Keith finally gets his story, but not before the reader gets a hard look at some sleazy TV bigwigs and a bottom-line code of ethics. Choppy, even garbled narration, but compelling almost all the way. Keith Mainwaring is an attractive character with a promising future.